Farm has good har­vest de­spite late start from wet spring

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Paul Post ppost@dig­i­tal­first­ @paul­v­post on Twit­ter

SOUTH CAM­BRIDGE, N.Y. » Good soil, am­bi­tion and a lit­tle luck.

That’s Bryan Her­ring­ton’s suc­cess for­mula for rais­ing pump­kins, and it’s ob­vi­ously work­ing based on his abun­dant har­vest this year.

He hand-plants and fer­til­izes all eight acres at his farm on Washington County Route 74, 10 miles south of Cam­bridge.

“I started out with a gar­den, when I was in high school,” said the 33-year-old Her­ring­ton. “I sold 500 on the street cor­ner. The next year I dou­bled the num­ber, sold all those, and dou­bled again the year af­ter that. I supplied sev­eral Ag­way stores when I was just out of school.”

Be­fore long, word started spread­ing about his pump­kins’ high qual­ity and he quickly de­vel­oped a loyal fol­low­ing of re­tail cus­tomers, so whole­sale was no longer needed.

The youngest of 10 chil­dren, Her­ring­ton, his wife, Lau­ren, and their two chil­dren, live in the house Bryan grew up in, in nearby Buskirk.

Seven years ago, he and his brother, Bill, pur­chased a small farm, which Bryan alone runs.

At one time, its re­tail stand was a train sta­tion for the Green­wich & John­sonville Rail­road. An­other small build­ing was the Buskirk Post Of­fice.

The main, large barn — filled with dozens of pump­kins — has one of the few known me­chan­i­cal hay presses left in Amer­ica. Lo­cal farm­ers would bring fresh-cut hay there to be baled. From a sec­ond story loft, hay was fed into a chute. The press, pow­ered by a horse walk­ing in cir­cles, would churn out one large bale af­ter an­other, some weigh­ing more than 200 pounds.

Orig­i­nal sten­ciled let­ter­ing says the de­vice was patented in 1897 and made by P.K. Ded­er­ick’s Sons of Al­bany.

It’s one of the many fas­ci­nat­ing pieces of agri­cul­tural his­tory that makes this farm a des­ti­na­tion for area res­i­dents.

Plus, its 70 va­ri­eties of pump­kins and gourds.

Lu­cille and Paul McCue, of Clifton Park, took home a car­load on Fri­day, which kicked off the farm’s first full week­end of au­tumn sales.

“It’s hard to stop,” Lu­cille said. “They come in all dif­fer­ent shapes. They last a long time, usu­ally up to Thanks­giv­ing Day. And it’s a pretty ride over here.”

Her­ring­ton’s main busi­ness is rais­ing and sell­ing hay. Much of it goes to horses at Saratoga Casino Ho­tel’s har­ness rac­ing track, along with “back yard” equine en­thu­si­asts through­out the area.

He also grows corn and grain to pro­duce cus­tom­made, non-GMO feed for hog and chicken farm­ers.

But his pas­sion is pump­kins.

“I buy brand-new seeds ev­ery year,” Her­ring­ton said. “That’s a good way to keep blight and pow­dery mildew down.”

Af­ter pre­par­ing fields with a trac­tor and dis­cer, he walks and sews all seeds by hand, which pre­vents waste and pro­duces greater yields. He also fer­til­izes by hand with the com­mer­cial prod­uct 10-10-10.

“I use half as much that way,” Her­ring­ton said.

As a one-man op­er­a­tion, he does ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep costs down.

How­ever, Her­ring­ton charges the same amount now, from $2 to $10 de­pend­ing on pump­kin size, that he did 16 years ago when first start­ing out.

Even he is sur­prised by this year’s crop, con­sid­er­ing how wet spring and early sum­mer was.

“I didn’t get done plant­ing un­til mid-June,” he said. “Nor­mally I’m done by the end of May. I’m sur­prised they fin­ished up. The breeds are get­ting stronger and stronger for pump­kins.”


The re­tail stand at Her­ring­ton’s Farm was pre­vi­ously a train sta­tion for the Green­wich & John­sonville Rail­road. From left to right are Lau­ren, Tris­tan and Bryan Her­ring­ton.

A large barn filled with pump­kins al­lows cus­tomers to shop on sunny and rainy days alike. Keep­ing pump­kins un­der cover keeps them from rot­ting.

Her­ring­ton’s Farm in Washington County grew eight acres of pump­kins this year and is sup­ply­ing a num­ber of lo­cal farms that had bad crops be­cause of wet spring and sum­mer con­di­tions.

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